April 22, 2009

Tempest in a Tea Bag

A week ago today hundreds of thousands of upset Americans held a day of protest against perceived federal government waste termed "Tea Parties" in hommage to the now infamous one in Boston circa 1773.  As it turns out, these protests were spurred and organized by national conservative groups, so the crux of the demonstrations are a vehement repudiation of Obama's policy on taxes, corporate bailouts, and his administration's use of taxpayer monies to spend the U.S. out of its deep recession. 

Now don't get me wrong. I have no issue with the protests themselves, even if they were more astroturf than grassroots. These citizens have every right to protest and gather to provoke dissent and debate. But I can't help but wonder why these same patriots haven't gone ballistic over the fact that the Iraq war has cost America $662B and that the Afghanistan war has cost America $186B.  

I have also noticed a great deal of quotes from various Colonial American Presidents in the rhetoric of the approved speaking points of these groups. I am just as nostalgic and weepy for the great oratory of the past as the next guy, but the United States is today a country of 306 million people, a massive citizenry requiring a sophisticated public policy on a nearly endless array of issues (health, education, business, environment, safety, etc.). In 1790 the population of the Republic was somewhere around 3.9 million. The politic of the individual, rooted in ancient feudal systems, still made sense and was still feasible (if not completely just). 

Everyone in America agrees on the financial problem facing the country. The rather divisive and bitterly partisan debate is about what is the right and best way in which to address the problem. Obama's economic stimulas package is his "New Deal", a staggering and comprehensive economic policy emanating from the federal government at a level not seen in 70 years. Frankly, the rabid Tea Party folks, who sit on the right of the political ideology see-saw, are freaking out about the socialism coming out of D.C. They want the Government to stay out of the way and let market forces take care of things.  As far as anyone can tell, however, it was the unbridled free market that created this very problem. 

Better boil a pot of water. It's going to be a long Spring.



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